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Tag Archives: J.K. Rowling

Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

I’m a huge fan of the author J.K Rowling, so when I heard that she had written a mystery (a favorite genre) under a pseudonym, I was eager to get it.  When Rowling published her first non-Harry Potter book, The Casual Vacancy, a lot of people were disappointed for, I feel, unfair reasons.  It wasn’t set in the wizarding world, there was no magic, and absolutely no 11 year old witches and wizards with which to grow up with through attending midnight release parties at bookstores and then reading several hundred page books in a single sitting.  Like The Casual Vacancy, Cuckoo’s Calling has absolutely nothing to do with the world of Harry Potter.  But it’s an amazing book written by one of the most imaginative and talented writers around – so don’t let the lack of magic wants turn you away!

Cuckoo’s protaganist, Cormoran Strike, is the perfect anti-hero.  He’s an overweight, hairy, newly single private detective with a prosthetic leg and whole lot of debt.  At the beginning of his story, his relationship crumbles, and we later find out he’s the illegitimate child of a classic rocker and a rock-groupie mother.  And yet, within first few pages, you are rooting for him.  He takes on the case of the suspicious death of Lula Landry, a famous supermodel who falls (or is pushed?) from her high-end flat in London.  Lula’s rise to success meant being surrounded by paparazzi (a very real concern for many that Rowling artfully tackles in her writing – even making parallels to Princess Diana’s untimely death) and people she can’t entirely trust.  The police have ruled that it was a suicide – and she has a history of mental illness and a stint in rehab to support such a claim.  But her brother feels that something else must have happened, and so he hires, of all people, Cormoran Strike.

I love mysteries, but like most people, hate when they’re too predictable.  Often, you can guess who the guilty party is once you determine who the author is formulaic-ly trying to convince you, the reader, is the least likely suspect.  This was absolutely not the case with Cuckoo’s Calling, which is extra impressive considering it was the author’s first mystery.  Was it Lula’s drug-addicted boyfriend who she was seen fighting with hours before her death?  A fellow supermodel who was constantly overshadowed by Lula’s success?  Her downstairs neighbor, a successful film producer accustomed to getting what he wants and with a history of domestic violence?  Her friend from rehab, who was desperate for money?  Her uncle, who clearly seems to hate her?  Or any number of other suspects?  Rowling had me equally suspicious of many characters, and I have to say, as the true story of what happens became clear at the end, I was properly surprised.  For that alone, I LOVED this book.  The characters are well-written, the setting current, believable, and interesting, and the mystery was exactly that – a mystery to the very end!  I give this book 5 stars – I highly recommend you check it out while I eagerly await Rowling’s next sure-to-be-fabulous book!  ★★★★★

– Becca


Becca’s Summer Reading List

IT IS SUMMER AT LAST!  Having completed my first year as a high school teacher, I am so unbelievably excited to spend time reading what I want, when I want, where I want.  On the beach?  I can do that!  In bed, despite it being in the middle of the day?  Already did it, and I’m not sorry!  Coffee shops, my patio, terrace cafes – I’m so excited to do some lounge reading as opposed to frantically-becoming-an-expert-on-before-teaching reading.  Oh, and everyone who thinks kids look forward to summer more than their teachers – you have obviously never taught!  I am ecstatic!  This summer, on my somewhat ambitious reading list are the following:

How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster: I’ve been meaning to read this book to aid me in my teaching for years, but never had the time to sit down and actually finish it.  Anyone who is an avid reader and wants to know what’s going on in their books at a higher level should check this out – it’s like taking a college English class but on your own time and in your pjs, if necessary.

Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Gailbraith (AKA J.K. Rowling): I love Harry Potter an unhealthy amount and really enjoyed J.K. Rowling’s A Casual Vacancy as well – so I’ll read anything by this author.  I’m excited since this is a private detective story following the suspicious death/suicide of a young supermodel.  Looks fun!

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman: I will admit, I know almost nothing about what this book is about.  On my way to Boston, I met another high school English teacher in an airport bar and was chatted books for an hour – it was lovely!  She mentioned that Neil Gaiman is one of her favorite authors, so when I saw this at the library, I thought I’d give it a go!

Juliet by Ann Fortier: I just finished teaching Romeo and Juliet, and am still a little obsessed.  This book is a combo of modern/historical characters – which I love – and follows Julie, who upon receiving a key to a safe deposit box in Sienna realizes that her ancestor was Juliet (yes, THAT Juliet) and Mercutio’s dying words, “A plague on both your houses…” is quite possibly a real curse still at work today.  The curse’s obvious next victim?  Julie!

The Happiness Project: or why I spent a year trying to sing in the morning, clean my closets, fight right, read Aristotle, and generally have more fun by Gretchen Craft Rubin: I wrote my masters thesis on positive psychology in the classroom and now dedicating most of my waking hours to a high-stress job that can make me elated and absolutely miserable, often in the same week.  I want to be happy.  So I want to read this book!

Mean Genes: from sex to money to food, taming our primal instincts by Terry Burnham: There’s not much to say other than I studied evolutionary psychology in college and love reading this stuff.  Are we slaves to nature?  How much self-determination do humans really have?  I’ll let you know when I read it.  (Oh, and maybe the next time a furious student throws a phone at me, I’ll know it’s not her fault… it is just those mean genes!)

The Book Thief by Marcus Zuzak: How have I not read this book yet??  I’ve been meaning to for years, and now, in a teacher book club that meets only in the summer months, I am!  Set in 1939 Nazi Germany, a young foster girl collects books that don’t belong to her – and shows how literature can be a powerful, life-changing force.  I’d love to use this for supplemental literature in my 10th grade English class in the future!

Water, Stone, Heart by Will North: Not too long ago on Facebook, an ad popped up that said something along the lines of “Did you love The Forgotten Garden?  Then you’ll love the newest book by Will North, Water, Stone, Heart!”  Well, I DO love The Forgotten Garden.  So I ordered this book without so much as reading a description of it.  Now that I have it, it looks like classic chick-lit.  It is set in England, and tells the story of a woman escaping an ugly divorce and a (I’m assuming HOT) professor of architecture whose wife has just left him.  Who cares what else it’s about – I’m gobbling this one up for sure!

I’m also spending a little time this summer working on a few writing pieces (if I ever stray from my reading list long enough to accomplish anything).  It’s slow going, and I’m not happy with much that I have on paper yet… but I’m starting!  And let me tell you, I have IMMENSE respect for all of the authors we’ve reviewed on the blog.  Writing is not an easy task at all, but oh, how thankful I am for the fruits of writers’ labors.  Enjoy your summer – and don’t forget that a good book and some SPF should be on you 24/7!

– Becca